ATL Idol

avatar Arnie Becker goodbye ATL Idol.jpgLater today, and according to plan, we’ll bring you the head-to-head match-ups in ATL Idol. This will give you, and our judges, the opportunity to see how different bloggers tackle the same story.
But when we do, you’ll see just five write-ups. There is a long tradition in reality contests of competitors voluntarily departing, rather than being voted off — e.g., Jack Mackenroth of Project Runway (Season 4). In that tradition, ATL Idol ARNIE BECKER has decided to call it quits.
We offered Arnie the chance to issue a farewell message, like many reality shows, but he demurred. So the precise reasons for his departure — fear of the formidable competition? an inability to handle ATL’s exceedingly candid commenters? — will remain a mystery.
We wish Arnie the best of luck in his future endeavors. And now, back to the contest — head-to-head posts will appear shortly.

avatar Exley ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by EXLEY, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Exley's avatar (at right).]
We apologize for the delay in bringing it to you; we received it later than the other submissions. Alas, the demands of Biglaw are not very conducive to covert participation in a legal blogging deathmatch.]
I saw this rather striking ad at the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank this morning (pre-quake):
Lady Justice ad in airport.JPG
The text on the right says: “Justice may be blind but she still sees it our way 92.3% of the time.”
Call me a sick nut but at first I thought it was an ad for the United States of America, to make me feel good about all the rigmarole a person has to go through at airport security these days.
But it turns out that Lady Justice was posing for another almost-all-knowing entity.
Find out who it is after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Firm Mascot of the Day: Lady J.”

avatar Arnie Becker ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by ARNIE BECKER, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Arnie Becker's avatar (at right).]
Fremont County judge Timothy O’Grady has been called on to determine the legal difference, in Iowa, between a strip club and a performing arts center. In Iowa strip clubs are illegal, however, there is a loophole which exempts performing art centers, theaters and concert halls from some state obscenity laws — including nude dancing.
As reported by the Associated Press:

The case pending before a Fremont County judge effects only one business in Hamburg, but if he agrees with the prosecutor, it could eventually threaten the legal standing of nude dancing clubs across the state.

Clarence Judy, owner of the establishment Shotgun Geniez Plaza “Hamburg Theater for the Performing Arts” (WARNING, art aside, the site is NFWS), is facing three charges of public indecent exposure involving a minor.
The facts of the case, as reported in the Omaha World-Herald, are as follows:

The charges were brought in connection with a July 21, 2007, incident. A 17-year-old Hamburg girl, the niece of Fremont County Sheriff Steve MacDonald, danced nude onstage at the club.

It was a typical summer night, the Hamburg High School graduate testified Thursday. She and four girlfriends were drinking at a friend’s house when they decided to meet up with three boys at Shotgun Geniez. She had already had six drinks when she got there. As the group of eight walked in, two of them proffered their driver’s licenses, but Judy, who was working the door, did not ask for the identification of the underage girl, several people testified Thursday.

Once inside, the girl said she drank another beer – given to her by a “stripper” – and then lay down on the stage with a dollar in her bra. The dancer pulled the girl’s shirt and her bra up, exposing her breasts, before taking the dollar.

Later, a dancer pulled the girl onstage, where she helped her disrobe. She danced to one song while fully nude.

She put her clothes back on and drank another beer given to her by a dancer, she said. Later, she took the stage and danced nude again.

Judy has argued that his establishment is not a strip club because it has posters and prints on the wall, offers its patrons sketch pads, and only charges for parking or entry onto the property.
Judge O’Grady is expected to make his ruling on the “sketch pad defense” sometime this week.
Now would probably be a good time for Mr. Judy to take his establishment’s listing off of the Iowa Strip Clubs website (WARNING again, NFWS). Probably just an oversite – like letting a 17 year old inebriated girl walk into his “art center” on a typical summer night.


avatar Frolic and Detour ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by FROLIC & DETOUR, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Frolic & Detour's avatar (at right).]
Why was ATL so fascinated by Shinyung Oh? Partly because it was juicy drama, and partly because she’s practically the only lawyer who’s given the world a straight story about a big-firm layoff. Partners and associates alike accept severance packages that keep them quiet, and while you can’t blame them for taking the cash, no one else can learn from their experience. We all figure that firms’ PR departments are feeding us BS when they claim that layoffs have always been part of the annual review process, but we haven’t had any eyewitness testimony on that point.
Today, ATL breaks the silence with an exclusive insider’s view of partner layoffs. Out of the dozens (hundreds?) of AmLaw 100 equity partners who’ve lost their jobs in this recession, we found a small number who were willing to talk to ATL about their experiences. According to their co-workers, our sources were well liked and doing good work when the axe dropped … they just didn’t have clients of their own. The picture they painted for ATL includes one piece of good news: well-informed young lawyers (i.e., ATL readers) have a pretty good understanding of how partners have become vulnerable to layoffs. On the other hand, it’s no cause for celebration that we were right about how dismal the picture has become.
Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Partnership: What’s in a Name?”

avatar Alex ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by ALEX, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Alex's avatar (at right).]
I heard once that people don’t like lawyers. Upon honest reflection, I’m inclined to agree with them. Hell, some people might not like me, even though I’m pathologically nice, fun at parties, and a member of the ABA.
Of course, hating lawyers is never justification for killing lawyers. Shakespeare be damned.
Earlier this month, the wife of a Tennessee lawyer became the avatar of lawyer-hate, strangling her husband and hiding his body in the bedroom closet with, presumably, all of the other unmentionables.
So reports WATE News Channel 6:

Nashville police arrested the estranged wife of an attorney in his strangulation killing. A housekeeper found the body of 44-year-old James Cannon in a bedroom closet on June 23. Police said Cannon had custody of the couple’s children, who are 9 years old, 7 years old and 18 months old. Cannon had filed for divorce from Kelly Cannon in February and obtained an order of protection to keep her away from him and the children.

Mrs. Cannon’s story seems, um, airtight:

Police said Kelly Cannon told them she went to her husband’s home the night of June 22, but said she couldn’t find him.

Kelly Cannon.jpgYou know, I would have never seen this coming from Mrs. Cannon. I’ve always trusted women with arty glasses. Never again.
It’s a shame, though; there are much more entertaining and lawful ways to seek revenge on a lawyer, like deleting the serial commas throughout the final draft of a brief or replacing all of his two-button suits with three-button suits.
In any event, this woman is clearly a threat to our people and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

avatar Marin ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by MARIN, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Marin's avatar (at right).]
If you’ve ever secretly read somebody else’s email 537 times, turns out you’re not alone. Larry Mendte, former CBS3 Philadelphia news anchor and Botox enthusiast, allegedly hacked into his former co-anchor Alycia Lane’s personal email accounts 537 times since January 2008 and leaked the contents of some of those emails to the press, according to the criminal information filed last Monday. What makes this case interesting is not the charge itself (one felony count of intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization; Mendte is expected to plead guilty on August 22), but the fact that this case appears to confirm that there are real-life Ron Burgundys among us: vain, jealous and 100% ridiculous.
According to Lane’s attorneys, Mendte, insanely envious of Lane’s 8.7% higher salary (Lane supposedly made $780,000, Mendte about $100,000 less), embarked on a campaign to sabotage her career by installing keylogger programs to obtain Lane’s passwords, which he then used to compulsively check Lane’s emails from work. And home. And vacation. And his country club. Lane unwittingly assisted Mendte in his plot to undermine her by sending pictures of herself in a bikini to married NFL Network anchor Rich Eisen, which were intercepted by Eisen’s wife. It is believed that Mendte leaked the correspondence to the press, including the wife’s classic response:

Boy, do you look amazing in a bikini . . . congrats! Whatever you’re doing, (Pilates? yoga?) keep doing it – it’s working for you. Anyway, sorry but those seven e-mails you sent to my husband, Rich, well, oops, they came to the e-mail address we both use from time to time, but no worries, I’ll forward the beach shots as well as the ones of you dancing with your friends on to his main address. Do you have it?

Mendte also allegedly leaked certain privileged communications between Lane and her lawyer concerning that one time when she allegedly assaulted a police officer and accidentally called her a “dyke b*tch.” Stay classy, Philadelphia.

Evidently Mendte was so busy hacking into email, subverting attorney-client privilege and leaking private information to the press that he failed to consider that his lower salary was merited. It takes more than a Cheshire grin and a plastic face to succeed as a news anchor, and unfortunately for Mendte, his spray tan could not mask his complete ineptitude as an investigative journalist.

U.S. v. Lawrence Mendte [pdf]
Philly ex-TV anchor charged with e-mail snooping [Associated Press]
Bikini E-mails Rattle TV Wife; Alycia Lane Arrested, Punches Cop [NY Post]

avatar Sophist ATL Idol.jpg[Ed. note: This post is by SOPHIST, one of the finalists in ATL Idol, the "reality blogging" competition that will determine ATL's next editor. It is marked with Sophist's avatar (at right).]
Nebraska’s Attorney General Jon Bruning might want to call OnStar before he files his next lawsuit.
In January, Bruning filed suit to stop the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska from constructing a casino on their reservation lands. Unfortunately for Bruning, the Ponca Tribe planned to build their casino in Iowa. In papers filed Friday, the DOJ argued that Bruning lacked standing to block the casino’s construction. The Government could have pointed out that Bruning’s lawsuit is also entirely redundant, given that the Attorney General of Iowa has already filed an appropriate action. How many state Attorneys General does it take to fight off the natives and their tricky card games?
In response to the DOJ’s clever Google maps defense, Bruning refused to bow to any “juris-my-diction” flak. In an email to the Omaha World-Herald, Bruning defended his lawsuit by noting that gamblers might drive through Nebraska to get to the Ponca casino. It will be fun when Bruning claims lordship over Las Vegas, another destination that is hard to get to from Iowa without passing over or through Nebraska.
Posturing lawsuits of this nature are part of a pattern for Killjoy Jon. His other career highlights include leading the charge against salvia, the psychotropic sage that briefly made YouTube fun again. Not surprisingly, his attempt dramatically increased sales of the drug. Bruning did not let the legislature’s refusal to act stop him from enforcing the non-existent statute. On March 10, 2008 a salvia purveyor was arrested for what some would describe as selling a substance we’d very much like to control someday.
To the extent that Bruning’s grandstanding (not my word) distracts him from protecting Nebraskans against thieving crows and other heartland menaces, his reasons are understandable. Like so many attorneys, he is absolutely desperate to get out of the legal profession. Bruning, a Republican, started running for Chuck Hagel’s Senate seat before Hagel even announced his retirement. Having aborted that campaign, Bruning now casts a lascivious eye towards Democrat Bob Nelson’s seat in 2012, or a future gubernatorial run.
Whatever his ambitions, it is unlikely the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska will stand in his way, since the Ponca’s problems, of course, are with Iowa.

ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol small.jpgYesterday we announced that the new editor of Above the Law will be picked by the readership, through a “reality blogging” competition called ATL Idol. We also introduced you to the six finalists.
The contest has received shout-outs from Dan Solove, over at Concurring Opinions, and Ann Althouse, over at Althouse (who is one of our celebrity judges — but NOT Paula, mind you). Please do what you can to spread the word. If more people vote in the contest, the result is more likely to be “accurate” (in terms of generating a deserving winner).
The tasks the bloggers will be asked to tackle will vary over the three weeks of the contest. Here’s an outline of what to expect this week.
In the first week of competition, the aspiring ATL Idols will write three posts (not counting yesterday’s short bios). Two are what we’re calling “freestyle” posts, but they’re not completely free. One must be a humorous, “___ of the Day” post — e.g., Lawyer, Lawsuit, or Judge of the Day — and one must be more serious or substantive.
The freestyle posts will be published today and Thursday. Contestants can choose the order in which to do the posts — e.g., humorous today and substantive on Thursday, or vice versa — but must do one of each during the week (i.e., not two humorous posts or two serious posts).
On Wednesday, we’re conducting what we’re calling a “head-to-head” round. We’ll publish the contestants’ different takes on the same story (actually, a pair of comparable stories — the contestants can choose). The head-to-head round is designed to show how the bloggers all tackle the same or similar stories, to eliminate any advantage one might derive from an extra-juicy set of facts.
The head-to-head round will be judged by ATL Idol’s distinguished panel of judges:

  • Ann Althouse, Robert W. & Irma M. Arthur-Bascom Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, and author of her eponymous blog, Althouse;
  • Tom Goldstein, head of the D.C. litigation practice and co-head of the firm-wide Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump, and founder of SCOTUSblog; and
  • Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor of Slate (where she blogged at Convictions), author of two books, and a contributor to the New York Times and the Washington Post (among many other publications).
    On Thursday, we’ll publish the other half of the bloggers’ freestyle posts. Also on Thursday, the judges will write up their reviews of the head-to-head round, and send them in to us.
    On Friday, we will post the judges’ reviews of the bloggers. These expert reviews are designed to guide and inform the electorate. But just like on Idol, the people decide who stays and who goes. The opinions of the judges are merely advisory.
    Also on Friday, after posting the panel reviews, we will open the reader polls. The polls will be kept open over the weekend (exact closing time to be announced). The bottom two contestants will be eliminated, and the four remaining contestants will move on.
    So that’s what we have in store for you. The first of the freestyle posts will be going up this afternoon. Thanks for reading!
    Earlier: Welcome to… ATL Idol!
    ATL Idol: Meet the Finalists

  • ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol small.jpgEarlier today, we announced that the new editor of Above the Law was going to be picked by you, the readers of the site, through a “reality blogging” competition. We provided some initial information about the contest over here.
    We urged you to check back later in the day for the contestants’ bios. “Later” is now; the short intro posts of the competitors are finally available. We apologize for the delay.
    Check out the six contestants’ capsule biographies, after the jump.

    double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Idol: Meet the Finalists”

    ATL Idol Above the Law Idol AboveTheLaw Idol medium.jpg
    Six lawyers, currently or formerly at large law firms, hoping to make the jump to the writing life (read: working in pajamas). One leading legal tabloid, in need of its next lead editor. A mass of angry anonymous commenters, looking for someone new with whom to have a love-hate relationship.
    “THIS…. is ATL Idol.”
    It’s a reality-show-style competition, in which site readers will pick the new editor in chief of AboveTheLaw.com — the recipient of some 3 million page views a month, described by the Washington Post as “a must-read legal blog.” We believe it to be the first time that a full-time blogging gig — one with a salary you can live on, health insurance, and even a 401(k) — has been awarded through a “reality blogging” contest.
    Back in May, we posted a help wanted ad for a new full-time writer here at Above the Law. Over the weeks that followed, we received a slew of excellent applications. We also located additional prospects through personal networking. All in all, we probably considered almost 100 talented candidates.
    We narrowed the list down to six highly impressive finalists. But we found the prospect of choosing just one of them to be agonizing.
    So we’ve decided to outsource this task to you, the readership of Above the Law. Over the next three weeks, the finalists will blog on ATL, for your consideration. Just as they would on a true reality TV show, the “assignments” will vary from week to week (details about them to follow).
    Each Friday, we will open the polls, allowing you to vote for your favorite — the blogger you’d like to see take the helm at this venerable legal tabloid. At the end of week one, the bottom two out of six finalists — the pair of contestants with the fewest votes — will be eliminated. Next week, the reader vote will take four finalists down to two. In the third and final week, the two finalists will go head to head, in a legal blogging deathmatch. Your votes will determine the winner, Above the Law’s new leader.
    ATL readers are an opinionated bunch, so we expect you to have strong views about the contestants (which you should feel free to share in the comments). But to those of you who need more guidance when voting, fear not. Just like American Idol, ATL Idol will provide you with three “celebrity judges,” to offer their expert opinions of the contestants’ blogging, and to inform and guide the electorate.
    Our judges, who are all leading legal bloggers in their own right, need no introduction. But we’ll introduce them anyway, briefly. They are (in alphabetical order):

  • Ann Althouse, Robert W. & Irma M. Arthur-Bascom Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, and author of her eponymous blog, Althouse;
  • Tom Goldstein, head of the D.C. litigation practice and co-head of the firm-wide Supreme Court practice at Akin Gump, and founder of SCOTUSblog; and
  • Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor of Slate (where she blogged at Convictions), author of two books, and a contributor to the New York Times and the Washington Post (among many other publications).
    Our impressive panel is well-balanced, featuring representatives from three major groups of legal bloggers: one law professor, one practicing lawyer, and one professional journalist. We’ll leave it to you to decide — perhaps based on how caustic their commentary is — who’s Simon, who’s Randy, and who’s Paula.
    Update: Professor Althouse emphatically rejects any suggestion that she’ll be the Paula Abdul of this contest. This is just as well; when we invited Dahlia Lithwick to serve as a judge, she called “dibs” on Paula.
    Check back later today, when we’ll post brief bios of the six finalists. And check back throughout this week – and, of course, over the next three weeks – to figure out which writers you love, and which you’d leave. The identity of ATL’s next editor rests in your hands.
    We’re expecting this contest to be fun and exciting. Please spread the word to your friends and colleagues. And once the polls are open, we pass along to you the exhortation of Ryan Seacrest: “America, don’t forget to vote!”
    Update: The bios of the finalists are now posted over here.
    Earlier: Help Wanted: ATL Seeks A New Writer

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